Defensive driving is driving so as to prevent accidents in spite of the
incorrect actions of others or adverse driving conditions, such as weather,
traffic, lighting, vehicle or road condition, or the driver's physical or
mental state. The defensive driver assumes that other drivers may make
mistakes and is on guard in the event an error is made.
Your safety program should include defensive driver training on the proper
way to maintain lane control. Lane-use and lane-changing accidents
primarily result from following too closely or being inattentive to traffic
conditions ahead or to the side. Accidents involving lane use and lane
changing primarily involve sideswiping and rear-end collisions. The
existence of blind spots around large vehicles is a major contributing
factor. Here are some areas that should be addressed regarding defensive
driving and tips to help your drivers become defensive drivers.
- Have your drivers been trained regarding safe lane use and lane changing?
- Do you know if your drivers are practicing safe procedures for lane use and lane changing?
- Do you periodically have qualified personnel ride with your drivers to assess their driving habits?
- Do your drivers know that most lane-use and lane-changing accidents result from following too closely or being inattentive to traffic conditions ahead or to the side?
- Do drivers perform a pre-trip inspection to assure that all vehicle lights are functioning properly?
- Are drivers aware of the concept of a preventable accident? A preventable accident is one in which the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the accident. This is irrespective of the extent of property damage or personal injury, to whom it occurred or the location of the accident.
To be a defensive driver in maintaining lane control, drivers should:
- Maintain a safe following distance. Drivers should try to ensure that, if the driver in front of them slams on his brakes or makes an emergency maneuver, they can avoid a collision, stay in their lane, and not be hit by the vehicle behind them. Following distance needs to be increased if the driver behind is following too closely.
- Scan ahead of what is immediately in front of their vehicle.
- Flash their brake lights to alert drivers following them if they perceive trouble ahead.
- Thoroughly observe the lane they are entering to assure there are no vehicles in the blind spots.
- Give right-of-way whenever changing lanes.
- Always signal their intentions far in advance of any lane-changing maneuver.
- Clean mirrors and check adjustment frequently.
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